How to Become a School Counselor
School counselors play a vital role in today’s dynamic school systems. Perhaps more than ever, students from pre-kindergarten through high school face any number of stressors in school, at home, and in the community. As a certified Maryland school counselor, you have the chance to help students navigate the complex waters of early childhood and adolescence so they can make the most of their education.
If you wonder, “What do I need to become a school counselor?” the answer can be found at Loyola School of Education’s school counseling program. To be a certified/licensed school counselor you must have a graduate degree in school counseling. Often perspective students believe they can seek a graduate degree in social work, psychology, or other related field. It can be confusing. Luckily the pathway to be a counselor can be found directly through a graduate degree in school counseling. With this degree you can become a certified school counselor in Maryland or, thanks to multi-state reciprocity, just about anywhere in the U.S.
Prospective school counselors come to this career from many walks of life with one shared interest: the welfare of young people.
“Our program has people who come from all backgrounds because they’re committed to making a difference in the lives of students,” says Jennifer Watkinson, Ph.D., director and associate professor at the School of Counseling, noting that the program offers full and part-time courses of study. “People may come to us with undergraduate backgrounds in business, psychology, family studies, fashion, education. There are no prerequisites and you can enter directly into the program.”
Loyola offers both a M.A. in school counseling and a M.Ed. (Read more about the M.A. versus the M.Ed. here.) After graduation, candidates are qualified to apply to the jurisdiction of their choice and thus open the door to their career in the school system. As a graduate of the Loyola program, you are distinct in the job marketplace; because the program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), potential employers know you have graduated from a program that meets rigorous national standards established by experts in the field.
“We want to make sure our students receive a really rich experience and are well prepared,” says Watkinson. “We hear back from our students that they felt very prepared to enter the field and that some people can’t even believe they are first year counselors because they have such a good sense of the role.”
“Our job placement rate for graduates is 86 percent,” she adds. “Our ability to place well-qualified, professionally-prepared school counselors has earned Loyola a reputation as a leader among programs.”
Still have questions? Check out our frequently asked questions page for more information.